Two mails sent on two consecutive days by two different senders, both claiming responsibility for the blast outside Delhi high court that has claimed 12 lives so far, besides injuring more than 75 others. Toral Varia makes a comparative analysis of these mails and its effect on the investigations.
The first email from email@example.com arrived at 1.14 pm on Wednesday in the inboxes on two media houses -- NDTV and Headlines Today -- just hours after the blast.
The mail allegedly sent out by Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami which claimed responsibility of the terror attack outside the Delhi High Court stated, "We owe responsibility of today's blast at high court Delhi... our demand is that Afzal Guru's death sentence should be repealed immediately else we target major high courts & the Supreme Court of India "
Just when the National Investigations Agency sleuths were tracking the first email ID traced to a cyber café in Jammu and Kashmir, a second email is sent to Headlines Today on Thursday.
This time email is sent at 12.37 pm from one 'chotoo minani ayushman' using email id firstname.lastname@example.org. This mail tries to discredit the first email. It reads, "kal delhi me hue blast me huji ka haath ho hi nahi sakta hai. kyunkiuse hamne anjam diya. hamne pehle se yeh plan banaya tha ki wednesdayke din hi blast karna hai kyunki us din wahan sabse jyada crowd hotihai. ise hamne yani INDIAN MUZAHIDDIN NE ANJAM DIYA HAI. huji ka tohisme dur-dur tak koi wasta nahi hai. hamara agla taret jald hi ranglayega jo ek shopping complex ke bahar hoga. use koi nahi rok sakta.aur yeh agle tuesday ko hoga. rok sako toh rok lo.chotoo (chotu) member INDIAN MUZAHIDDIN"
After closer look at both the emails, one wonders if the investigators are being sent on a wild goose chase. Is this an attempt to enable the perpetrators to escape while the officers are busy concentrating on tracing the sender of the email?
Or are these emails mere pranks? Are the officials losing out on crucial time and leads in the investigation while concentrating on the emails?
"We are taking each email seriously. We are already working on tracking the email after it has been forwarded to us along with the headers," says Prakash Mishra, special director general of the National Investigations Agency.
Since the latest email has been sent by a 'chotoo minani ayushman' who claims to be a member of 'INDIAN MUZAHIDDIN,' a natural comparison with all the previous Indian Mujahideen mails is warranted.
It must be noted that Indian Mujahideen has sent as many as five emails claiming responsibilities for various attacks. All the emails were drafted with precision using PDF files, various fonts and colours, Urdu script, a proper signature, a well researched list of recipients, and sent minutes after a terror attack was executed. All the mails were signed by 'Al ARBI.'
Content for the Indian Mujahideen mails was usually written in impeccable English, interspersed with the verses from the holy Koran, a picture of the Gujarat carnage, references to 'atrocities on Muslims' amongst other inflammatory literature.
However, one look at both the emails, that have been sent claiming and counter claiming responsibilities for Wednesday's blast, and the first impression is that the mails have perhaps been sent by an amateur.
A senior Mumbai crime branch official associated with the investigations into the previous blasts observes that, "This time around both the mails appear to be an afterthought almost bordering on pranks"
HuJI, which is not very active in India, is not really known to be sending emails to claim responsibility of an attack. And on the other hand, Indian Mujahideen has never written a mail that appears shabby in language and spelling.
Unlike the previous elaborate mails sent out by the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, both the emails are short with two lines and four lines each.
The second mail especially has strikingly spelled "Indian Mujahideen' as 'INDIAN MUZAHIDDIN'. The sender has written a mail in roman Hindi which has never been Indian Mujahideen's style.
The content really appears to be plagiarised from national television news channels reporting on why the gates of Delhi high court are crowded on any given working Wednesday.
Indian Mujahideen is also never known to leave individual names as a sign off like 'chotoo' (Chotu) member of INDIAN MUZAHIDDIN.'
The sender's list as compared to that of the Indian Mujahideen is also very basic. While the first email was sent to just two media houses, the second was sent to only one. Indian Mujahideen mails have always been sent to a multiple print, television and international media houses.
The language in both the recent emails appears to be very layman like. The mails also differ in formatting, and fonts. The first email has no signature and makes a demand not to hang Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru.
Again on this front, Indian Mujahideen is known to seek revenge and never make any particular demands, while issuing threats to target other key locations.
Timing of the mails also gives credence to police's theory that the mails have been sent as an afterthought. Besides the mails appear to have been sent through stationary computers, which is totally different from hacking unsecured wifi networks and sending mails on the move.
Perhaps the senders are trying to ape the modus operandi adopted by the Indian Mujahideen. Investigators are also working on a conjecture that this is "perhaps because a number of blast cases executed by the IM have gone undetected so far," says an official from the NIA.
This also points to a possibility that the perhaps this is a separate group and will have to be investigated differently.
And while, home ministry and NIA officials confirm that they are taking each lead, including the terror mails, seriously, privately NIA officials believe that the mails may well turn out to be pranks. However, as of now, verification of facts in underway, even as speculations are rife.